The disappointment flooded over me, as I heard God calling me to stay put for the day: rest was the name of the game for me. My yearly physical had left my body depleted, and the pain in my hands as they stiffened and tightened into their familiar “paddle” shape, only served to emphasize my own shame.
Like a petulant child, I found myself kicking the ground of my soul. Why did it have to go this way? My other friends were allowed to meet together! Why wasn’t I?
Have you ever heard that childish voice screaming for attention in the background of your grown-up mind? I thought I had conquered it by now. I thought I wasn’t susceptible to the shame that the enemy likes to heap there. I thought I was stronger. But when a long-hoped-for gathering had to be cancelled, I slipped on the slope of pride and shame.
So soon after God had showed me the beauty of HIS abundance in my lack, here I was, falling into the old ways of thinking again. Ah, but what a precious Savior we have. He is not disappointed at our disappointment. No, He comes alongside, and speaks HIS own Words to lift up our eyes.
You may recall the post recently, where I shared about the months-long sojourn in the 17th chapter of John recently. The stay there hasn’t ended yet, and I found my eyes settling on another portion of Jesus’ prayer that seemed so incongruous to my own day:
“I am coming to You now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of My joy within them.” John 17:13 NIV
I am in a place of pain! Can’t You see that, Lord? Why would You add to the weight of my missing the joy of gathering with friends? But then I looked closer at the words, and I saw what I had been missing. Jesus was facing the cross, and He was praying for us to have the JOY that was within Him. That joy was not dependent on being pain-free. No, He was facing a depth of pain that I could never imagine, the deepest pain that this world of sin could have created. Yet, in that very place, He was filled with the Joy of being One with His Father, of bringing many sons to Glory, of joining us with Himself.
And He was praying that for me.
The convictions poured forth as I offered my heart back to Him. And His Joy found a resting place in a soul that had been so petulant only moments before. As the day wore on, and I thought about my friends gathering together, I prayed for them to have laughter in their gathering. And as I was praying, I remembered the package that my husband had brought inside the house earlier that morning. I had set it in the kitchen and tried to ignore it when I saw the return address of the drug company that manufactures my current medicine. I hadn’t been in the mood to think about paperwork and side effect listings.
But I felt the Lord nudging me to open the box. It wasn’t easy, with hands that were pulled into paddle shapes. I thought of how funny it would look if someone saw me who didn’t know my situation. But I finally managed to pry open the box, and there lay a beautiful art journal and tote bag, by an artist who has RA. It was her gift to encourage other RA warriors not to give up.
You can find more of her artwork, as well as information about the classes she teaches here at: JesseRobertson.com
Into a day where I felt the sting of so many disappointments, Jesus had planned to bring His Joy deeper into my heart. Pen and ink drawings, and gifts of calligraphy used to be a passion of mine. My dear friend, Gayl S.Wright, has encouraged me over the last few years with her beautiful collage style art work, but that also had been stilled for me over these last few months of intense flare-ups. When I won an online giveaway for a Bible Journaling class from Tiffany at Hope and Joy in Christ, hope was stirred within me that God would open a way for me to be able to share in artwork again. When the discouragement seemed to brush away those hopes, Jesus sent the gift at just the right time.
Later that night when the pain began subsiding, and the joints began unlocking, the stirring in my heart found expression in a simple collage cut and pasted together in a journal gifted from a pharmaceutical conglomerate. God surely moves in mysterious ways.
Are you locked in a pain flare of disappointment? Perhaps it’s your heart and not your hands. Perhaps it’s the heaviness of a joyful season that seems to mock your own despair. Jesus longs to bring Himself into your dreary day. I don’t know what it might be, but I know that He has a gift for you that will meet your need right where you are.
Would you pray with me?
Dear Lord Jesus,
Thank You so much for the JOY that You have brought to us. Would You forgive us for looking down towards our own failures and weaknesses and counting them as our standing and position? Thank You that YOUR joy and hope are gifts that Your Holy Spirit brings when You come to dwell within us. While we are being planted more deeply in You, would You lift our eyes to see the beauty of who we are in YOU? Thank You for coming to us in that midnight birth so many centuries ago. And thank You for sending Your Spirit to bring us Your joy, as You rose back to Your Father, Our Father.
In Your Name we pray,
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